In order to support communities across Massachusetts in conducting community clean energy initiatives, MassCEC has created the Solarize and HeatSmart Tool Kit. Our goal is to provide communities that are interested in running a Solarize or HeatSmart-styled campaign with resources and valuable information necessary to create their own clean energy adoption programs. We hope to harness the energy and motivations your town has to create lasting climate action. Resources will include materials to assist in community outreach, marketing, installer selection, campaign management, event planning, and campaign wrap-up and analysis.

MassCEC launched the Solarize and HeatSmart program model to increase the adoption of small scale solar electricity and clean heating and cooling technologies in participating communities. These grassroots educational campaigns were mainly driven by local volunteers to help simplify the process of installing clean energy systems by pre-vetting an installer and offering transparent pricing for homeowners. Although MassCEC was unable to offer funding for the Solarize and HeatSmart programs for fiscal year 2021, this tool kit will guide you step by step and help you utilize your existing assets to implement a campaign independently.

This toolkit was last updated on November 13th and is in the process of being developed. Check back next month for additional resources, and the complete version at the end of the year.

To check out past Solarize and HeatSmart campaigns visit Solarize Mass or HeatSmart Mass and click on the ‘Program Background’ section.

If you have any questions contact us at solarize@masscec.com or heatsmart@masscec.com

 

The first step to running your Solarize or HeatSmart-like campaign is selecting which clean energy technologies to promote within your community. It's important that you and your volunteer team understand the basics of your selected technologies, so you can help educate other residents in your community and answer their questions. You don’t need to become an expert on each technology because the installer you select to work with will be able answer the technical and advanced questions for you and your community participants throughout the campaign. You can begin learning more about these clean energy technologies by watching the following training videos and guides. 

Please note that the ‘Technology’ 2020 Training Webinars were presentations given to our 2020 Solarize and HeatSmart Community Coaches and Volunteers. The intent was to train them to a basic level of understanding for each technology so that they would be able to answer residents’ fundamental questions. Our presentations included information about specific tax credits and rebate programs applicable at that time, however this section has been removed from most videos because the incentive information is subject to change each year. For up to date incentives and financial information please visit our Clean Energy Lives Here Resources

Now that you have a better understanding of small-scale solar electric and clean heating and cooling solutions you can move on to exploring and planning your campaign.

In this stage you will explore past program overviews, best practices, and general logistics to help you understand the fundamental steps to implementing a clean energy adoption campaign that you will strategically plan for in the next section. It’s important to understand the time commitment that needs to be made, who  the campaign’s stakeholders are and their level of support or readiness to adopt clean energy technologies to ensure for a successful campaign.

Understand the program: The following resources will help you explore running your campaign in the traditional way and/or identify areas and strategies to alter to help tailor your campaign to your community. Please keep in mind that your team does not need to specifically follow any of this guidance, but these tools have been used for many years to support clean-energy campaigns. 

  • Solarize Mass Community Best Practices Timeline - Review how MassCEC’s Solarize Mass program was conducted to understand how you can model your campaign to progress in the same way. This document will be updated in the coming months with more up to date steps.
  • The Solarize Guidebook: A community guide to collective purchasing of residential PV systems - Learn about the best practices for team leadership, volunteer recruitment, releasing and reviewing installer RFPs, outreach, and customer enrollment from case studies on previous Solarize campaigns initiated from different state programs.  
  • Planning and Implementing a Solarize Initiative, A Guide for State Program Managers - Learn about elements common to successful Solarize programs and how state managers structure and organize a Solarize program from case studies on Solarize Mass and Solarize Connecticut.
  • HeatSmart Mass Pilot Summary - Review the results of the first HeatSmart Mass program round to understand how it was used to increase awareness and installation of clean energy technologies.
  • Valuable resources and programs to consider from other entities:
    • NYSERDA Solarize Guidebook (Source: NY-SUN) – Review best practices and campaign structure established by NY State’s Solarize program
    • Solar United Neighbors - This national organization is dedicated to representing the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. They are a community of people building new energy systems with rooftop solar at the cornerstone, to help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights.
    • MassEnergize – This organization provides communities with the tools and resources to motivate and support their residents, businesses, and non-profits in a wide array of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for a changing climate. They leverage the collective expertise, experience and buying power of multiple towns, cities and local organizations by collaborating with them on tools, strategies, and resources.
    • HeatSmart Alliance – This is a collaborative group of Massachusetts communities that participated in the HeatSmart Mass program previously and aims to promote sustainable building energy usage and greenhouse gas reduction programs in your community by accelerating the adoption of energy-efficient heat pumps.

Conduct Outreach: The following resources will help you reach out to valuable stakeholders, such as community members and past participants, to better prepare and tailor your campaign to your community’s needs and interests.

  • Solarize Mass Campaign Outreach Techniques - Review a list of techniques used to conduct outreach and market through previous Solarize and HeatSmart programs. This will be important to use for both planning and implementation phases.
  • Past Solarize-HeatSmart Municipal Representative Contact Info - Reach out to people that have previously run a Solarize or HeatSmart campaign to receive feedback and compare experiences.

  • Template Community Interest Survey - Send out to your neighbors and post on town websites or Facebook groups to see if residents are interested in switching to clean energy technologies, and as a method for identifying which technologies to promote. This list of interested contacts can become a valuable resource in order to share initial leads with your selected installers.

  • Template Collaborator Commitment Letter - This template can be used to provide confirmation of another entity’s commitment to support and help promote your campaign. This entity may be a local environmental nonprofit, community organization, or the municipality. Campaigns that collaborate with another entity tend to have more success due to diversity of perspective and a wider range of resources for community outreach and marketing. 

  • High-Cost Heating Fuels Map – Review this map to identify what percentage of households in your community heat with high cost heating fuels like oil, electric resistance, and propane. These households will see the highest cost savings for switching to clean heating and cooling technologies so are great candidates for a HeatSmart campaign.During your outreach, you can use the Clean Energy Technology 101 Flyers (listed under Step 1) to help educate stakeholders on the different clean energy technologies. For example, when conducting the community interest survey, you can attach the flyers to help explain some of the benefits of installing solar electric or clean heating and cooling systems.

  • During your outreach, you can use the Clean Energy Technology 101 Flyers (listed under Step 1) to help educate stakeholders on the different clean energy technologies. For example, when conducting the community interest survey, you can attach the flyers to help explain some of the benefits of installing solar electric or clean heating and cooling systems.

In this stage of planning, you want to detail your overall campaign and marketing strategy. This requires you to utilize your insights from ‘Step 2 – Campaign Exploration’ to identify your team members, partners, campaign goals, marketing tactics, events, and timeline.

Campaign Planning
The following resources will help you develop a detailed campaign structure to keep your entire team, municipal partner, volunteers, and selected installers organized and on the same page. 

  • Community RFP - Utilize the Request for Proposals from MassCEC’s Solarize Mass and HeatSmart Mass program to better understand the typical program process. You will learn about specific program roles and responsibilities for each, what best qualifies and prepares a community to run a campaign, and timelines to help you structure your campaign. The community application has been noted by past participants as an essential planning and preparation tool.
    • Proposal Checklist and Application – This application will help you concretely establish your goals and may prove useful if you seek to gain approval from your municipality or to engage other partners.
      • You can check out the Community Marketing Proposals (under the Program Background tab on the Solarize and HeatSmart webpages) for examples of strategies submitted by previously selected Solarize and HeatSmart communities, and use these as a template to create your own plan. See the below ‘Marketing Planning’ section for further tools.
    • HeatSmart or Solarize Coach Commitment Form – This form will summarize the traditional responsibilities of the HeatSmart or Solarize Coach and secure a commitment from them. You can read the full descriptions of program roles and responsibilities in the Community RFP above.
    • Volunteer Commitment Form – This form secures a commitment from all volunteers.
  • Community Outreach Plan Template - Plan and identify potential opportunities to conduct outreach and interact with residents to market the campaign. This tool can be updated each week throughout the campaign to help track campaign progress.
  • MAPC Example Stakeholder List - This list provides recommendations of specific stakeholders for you to identify within your community to target for partnership opportunities, campaign support, residents to market the program to and strategies to use to engage them. Make sure to reference this tool throughout your campaign, especially during the following marketing and event planning phases.

Marketing Planning
The following resources will help you create your marketing strategy for future implementation by providing guidance on launching a website and utilizing social media to engage with residents.

  • Develop a plan to use the Community Marketing Proposal you created in the previous section to expand your marketing strategy. You can find examples of strategies submitted by previously selected Solarize and HeatSmart communities under the Program Background tab on the Solarize and HeatSmart webpages and use these as a template to create your own plan. The following tools will help inform your strategies
  • Social Media & Marketing Best Practices Webinar (1.5 hours) and slides This training video provides an overview of how to utilize social media to help further develop and implement your strategies. Social Media and online communications might be an extremely important feature of your campaign if you are planning to launch during the pandemic. 
  • Digital Marketing Best Practices Summary – This guide provides quick tips on utilizing Facebook, email, and Nextdoor for digital marketing as well as best practices for using links, images, and videos to create organic content and paid ads on social media. Once reviewed, set up your first social media account for your campaign.
    • Facebook Best Practices – This document will teach you how to set up your own Facebook page for the campaign and provide step by step instructions to help you post organic content and pay for promoted ads.
  • Content Calendar Template – Use this content calendar to plan out the posts you want to publish to social media, as well as help track articles or blogs that may be posted to other news sources.
  • Create a website for your Solarize or HeatSmart campaign. This site should include information about your selected technologies, program contact information, any events you hold, and eventually your selected installers and their contacts.
  • Create an FAQ page for your website and to be utilized by volunteers to help quickly answer residents’ questions about the program and selected technologies. MassCEC will provide a Community FAQ Template as a draft for your team to utilize to add your own responses to in the coming months.

Event Planning
The following resources include examples of types of events that have been held by past HeatSmart and Solarize campaigns to help you plan your own events to further your marketing strategy.

  • Visit the MassCEC Youtube page to watch past HeatSmart communities’ campaign events so you can consider how you will market and plan for them.
    • Plan a Kick-Off event where the community is introduced to the campaign and the selected clean energy technologies. View HeatSmart Newton's Kick-Off event for reference.
    • Plan a Meet the Installer Event to announce and introduce your selected installers for the campaign to community residents. View HeatSmart Newton's Meet the Installer Events for reference 
  • Launch Event Planning and Outcomes Checklist – This template can be used for planning a larger in-person launch or kick-off event to announce the campaign, but may be modified for planning virtual events and other smaller outreach events.
    • Continue to update and utilize the Community Outreach Plan Template as you plan additional events during your campaign.

Resources coming soon!

Resources coming soon!

Resources coming soon!